Tag Archives: zero hedge

Answer to “Why Has The Government Stopped Reporting Lake Mead Water Levels?”

Summary:  Zero Hedge gives today’s example of an ominous trend. The manufacturers of clickbait thrive while journalists are fired and the revenue of newspapers evaporates. They provide a dramatic mixture of fact and fiction, optimized for specific tribes of Americans. Worse, our diminished interest in telling fact from fancy creates audiences for fringe politicians (promoted by clickbait manufacturers) — the kind of people who shouldn’t be allowed near the controls of a great nation.  {2nd of 2 posts.}

Manipulation

 

Zero Hedge breaks a big story: “Why Has The Government Stopped Reporting Lake Mead Water Levels?” And they point the finger: “In the spirit of data obfuscation a la China and Obama, Lake Mead’s daily reporting has not been posted for six (6!) weeks.” As evidence they go to the private website the “Lake Mead Water Database“.

Update: on the morning of day two, Zero Hedge’s allegation has already has been repeated on 5,500 websites (hundreds of tweets). It will echo through the right-wing internet for weeks.

Through the magic of Google in fifteen seconds I found the Bureau of Reclamation website giving daily water levels through yesterday. And, for a better perspective, the monthly water levels from February 1935 to July 2015. Unfortunately, the truth will never catch up with this lie — and American’s trust in the US government erodes away one particle more.

For fun I suggest scrolling through Zero Hedge’s headlines to see what wing-nuts are worrying about these days. Enemies everywhere. Conspiracies behind every door. Markets are crashing or about the crash, always. The government is broke, with a rising tide about to overwhelm America. Then there are Zero Hedge’s really weird headlines…

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Zero Hedge is a model publisher for 21st C America. Be afraid.

Summary: Perhaps Americans cannot regain control of our nation because we’re lost amidst a wilderness of mirrors, and so unable to clearly see the world. Here’s an example of the fun house media that increasingly dominate web publishing. We choose them over less entertaining but more accurate sources. The cost of doing so is high.  {2nd of 2 posts today; I said there would be only one, but this was too easy.}

Funhouse Mirrors

The secret to success on American media is to run a fun house. Provide entertaining news that is irrelevant to our lives, and distorted to fit to our tribal truths. Few show this better than Zero Hedge (subject of several debunkings here). Investment success requires a hard and cold view of the world, uncontaminated by cant and ideology. Yet ZH provides a flow of cartoon-like stories (plus otherwise difficult to get research from the major Investment Banks and real-time news about breaking news). Its fantastic success both proves that the models of equity research and news publishing are broken (I do consulting in this field, providers refuse to see this as their business dwindles).

Let’s see some examples from ZH today, other than their gold-buggery and conspiracy-mongering.

Why Moar QE Is Inevitable (In 2 Simple Charts)

ZH has been predicting another round of quantitative easing since the Fed announced in June 2013 that they were ending QE (they ended it on 29 October 2014). They have been wrong about this since the economy has continued to grow (which they often deny, even mock).

Worse, they have argued that the economy is not growing — or about to fall into recession — for years. This ignores one of the major economic stories since the crash, the continued slow growth of the US economy. Doesn’t crash, doesn’t “take off”.

Here Is The Flashing Red Light In The Inventory-Sales Ratio

“And guess where inventrories {sic} are soaring the most…”

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America created ISIS, and other clickbait!

Summary: We consume news in unprecedented amounts via the information superhighway, yet we know so little. Smart people have learned to convert hard news into clickbait (exciting fiction), which people we trust then disseminate (the same process spreads urban legends). It’s advertising revenue for them but clouded minds for us. Either we learn to click through to sort truth from exaggerations and misrepresentations — or we get stop reading sources that don’t deserve our trust (no matter how flattering to our ideology.Clickbait  {2nd of 2 posts today.}

 

Contents

  1. Exciting News!
  2. Real News
  3. Actual Intelligence
  4. For More Information
  5. 20th C Headlines written as Clickbait

 

(1)  Exciting News!

Secret Pentagon Report Reveals US ‘Created’ ISIS As A ‘Tool’ To Overthrow Syria’s President Assad” at Zero Hedge. Wow! Pulitzer Prize material of the sort to change your view of the world. Their stories are reposted at hundreds of websites, and seen by thousands or millions of people. It cites as a source a story only a fraction of readers will click through to see…

(2)  Real news

Pentagon report predicted West’s support for Islamist rebels would create ISIS
Anti-ISIS coalition knowingly sponsored violent extremists to ‘isolate’ Assad, rollback ‘Shia expansion’” by Nafeez Ahmed at Medium. After this opening it gets a bit exaggerated, but it’s journalism (not clickbait fiction). Opening…

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The jobs report: another opportunity to shake our confidence in the government

Summary: Today we look at lies about the jobs report from Zero Hedge. These are part of a larger campaign to destroy our confidence in the government as a means of collective action, leaving us isolated and weak.

WW2 propaganda

True then and now

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Conservatives have long waged a campaign to weaken our confidence in unions and government, the only organizations that can resist the 1%. Alone, as individuals, we’re pawns So they’re using their agents to separate us, as shepherds’ dogs work sheep, with a propaganda barrage on us of immense size. Instead of explosives, it consists of ideas — myths and misinformation. Too overwhelming for rebuttals, our only hope lies in skepticism.

Our gullibility is their greatest advantage, but we can do better

These stories comes from sources providing an artfully arranged combination of information and misinformation (like worms on fishhooks). Few do it better than Zero Hedge, which mixes information from valuable sources with misinformation and outright fiction. Today we look at one example, Zero Hedge’s myths about the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

4 Million Fewer Jobs: How The BLS Massively Overestimated US Job Creation
Zero Hedge, 5 August 2014 — Opening:

“When it comes to the all-important monthly payrolls number which sets the tone for risk over the next month, one of the biggest variables in the BLS’ “estimate” (because all jobs numbers are that: statistical estimates) of US jobs is the monthly birth-death adjustment. What this monthly fudge factor is, in a nutshell, is the BLS’ estimation for how many new businesses are created over the period offset by older “dying” businesses, leading to incremental jobs that are only polled by the BLS with a substantial lag. Here is how the BLS explains this adjustment: …”

This is correct, as is the following excerpt they provide from the BLS website. They then add their special mixture of fact and fiction.

The latest proof of just how broken the economy has become, and serves as a big flashing red question mark about just how massively overestimated job creation is due to a wildly erroneous birth/death estimator, comes from a research report by the Brookings Institution titled: “The Other Aging of America: The Increasing Dominance of Older Firms.”

This study, one of several by Brookings about this important trend, shows the decline in entrepreneurship in the US economy. ZH quotes:

Perhaps more striking, our research showed that the decline in new firm formation rates had occurred in every U.S. state and nearly every metropolitan area, in each broad industry group, and in all firm size classes … the rate of new firm formations fell significantly during this period — occurring because the number of new firms being formed each year (numerator) didn’t keep pace with the growth in the stock of total firms in the economy (denominator).

Zero Hedge then assumes the BLS has not accounted for this (guessing), and draws a dramatic conclusion (their bold):

… if indeed this declining dynamism is “contributing to the decline in entrepreneurship as well” then the whole premise behind the birth/death adjustment, or rather the “Birth” contribution … goes out of the window.

…  here is the bottom line: since Lehman, or starting in 2009, the Birth/Death adjustment alone has added over 3.5 million jobs. Or rather “jobs”, because these are not actual jobs – these are BLS estimates for how many jobs newly-formed businesses have created based purely on statistical estimations and hypotheses that the US economy in 2014 is as it was in 1960. Which means that the traditional dynamics used behind the Birth and Death adjustment are now merely Dead, and US employment is overestimated by as much as three and a half million jobs!

This also means that any boasts by Obama about “solid US economic growth” under his regime, and that all those jobs lost since Lehman have allegedly since been recovered, are nothing but even more lies.

From Zero Hedge: Birth Death model

Zero Hedge, 5 August 2014

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This is big news. They even added the standard GOP refrain of “Obama lies”. But false; it’s ignorance on stilts. Note the last sentence from the BLS page about the birth/death adjustment, from which ZH quoted at the start of their article:

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Does the September jump in food stamp recipients signal a red alert for the US economy?

Summary:  The number of households getting food stamps tells us little about the future (ie, it’s not a leading indicator). It tells us something about the present. And reporting about it tells us much about the reporter.  America will become a stronger nation when we demand high-quality sources of information, and complain about those that twist the news to suit our biases. That’s something each of us can do, starting today.

The US Department of Agriculture released the food stamp data (ie, SNAP) for September. Before tropical storm Sandy hit.  Zero Hedge tells a story about the numbers.

The just reported foodstamp number for September was a doozy, with 607,544 new Americans becoming eligible for foodstamps, as a record 47.7 million Americans are now living in poverty at least according to the USDA. The monthly increase was the highest since May 2011, and with August’s 421K new impoverished America, over 1 million Americans made the EBT card their new best friend. It is unclear just which atmospheric phenomenon will get the blame for this unprecedented surge in poverty, which comes at a time when the pre-election economic data euphoria was adamant that the US economy was on an escape velocity to utopia.

Being from Zero Hedge, this is of course misleading.  The USDA data page clearly shows that September data includes disaster relief, and they hyperlink to an explanation.  The number of people getting SNAP benefits rose 608 thousand in September. The number of people getting new SNAP benefits in response to Hurricane Isaac: 654 thousand.

USDA Food & Nutritional Service Responses to Hurricane Isaac

FNS approved operation of the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) for new D-SNAP recipients and ongoing SNAP recipients to help disaster survivors in Louisiana and Mississippi in response to Hurricane Isaac which made landfall on August 28, 2012. Preliminary reports show that as of October 12, 2012, FNS has provided over $114.9 million in Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) benefits to help disaster survivors in Louisiana and Mississippi in response to the extended power outages and flooding caused by Hurricane Isaac. Over 654,652 individuals in 283,598 households received these benefits. In addition, FNS provided over $19.2 million in supplemental benefits to 299,169 individuals in 125,605 ongoing SNAP households affected by the disaster.

Zero Hedge also provides graphs (as usual, of excellent quality), which tells the story of our economic recovery: weak — and leaving many people behind.

20121210-September-Foodstamps

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We are ignorant because we enjoy being lied to. Today we look at lies about the US debt.

Summary:  Much of public policy debate today consists of lies by the Right and rebuttals using simple facts, which have no effect.  It’s a losing game, as an emotionally appealing Big Lie usually wins if repeated frequently to a weak and foolish people.

Today’s example, from that engine of misinformation the Zero Hedge website:

While we reserve judgment for S&P’s effectiveness at being accurate in anything they do (they are, after all a rating agency and as such they goal seek results to comply with what their paying groupthink seeking customers demand), we would like to redirect to the modest topic of CBO predictive efficiency (the organization that is at the basis of the current credibility spat between Treasury and S&P, and which, incidentally has created the baseline forecast against which the debt ceiling compromise plan is supposed to cut $2.1 trillion over the next decade), by pointing out according to the same CBO back in 2001, net US indebtedness in 2011 would be negative $2.436 trillion, the ratio of debt held by the public to GDP would be 4.8%, total budget surplus would be $889 billion, and GDP would be $16.9 trillion.

Here is the graph they show, from page 16 of “The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2002-2011“, Congressional Budget Office, January 2001

The Zero Hedge propagandists omit the core of the CBO’s analysis:

“Although there are signs that economic growth is moderating from recent robust levels, substantial budget surpluses remain on the horizon for the next decade in the absence of large changes in policy.  Over the longer term, however, budgetary pressures linked to the aging and retirement of the baby boom generation threaten to produce record deficits and unsustainable levels of Federal debt.”

Rather than foolishly wrong, this was prophetic.  The CBO analysts correctly anticipated the 2001 recession, which despite the effect of 9-11 was the lightest of the post-WWII era.  They put these events properly in context against the larger story of the age wave.  Most important are the words “in the absence of large changes in policy.”  They could not know about the insanity to come.

Such as the policy changes made by President Bush Jr., which have put the US on the road to financial ruin.

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“2nd Iceland volcano issues warning” (Katla speaks to MSNBC’s newshounds)

Summary:  Today’s fearful headlines about Icelandic volcanos from the news media and popular websites.  And the real story.  BTW — “soon” means something different to geologists than laypeople.

Disturbing:  “2nd Iceland volcano issues warning“, MSNBC, May 2010 — “Scientists say powerful Katla is ‘close to failure’.”  The opening is misleading but the full article is accurate.

A second, much larger volcano in Iceland is showing signs that it may be about to erupt, scientists have warned. Since the start of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption, which caused cancellations of thousands of flights in Europe because of a giant ash cloud, there has been much speculation about neighboring Katla. An initial research paper by the University College of London Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction said …

Terrifying:  “Iceland President Warns That ‘Significant Eruption At Katla Volcano Is Close’“, Zero Hedge, 27 May 2010 “Icelandic president Ólafur Grímsson has warned governments around Europe ‘that a significant eruption at the volcano is close.'”  He said no such thing.

The real story:  “Volcanic hazard from Iceland: analysis and implications of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption“, University College of London’s Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction, May 2010 — Red emphasis added.  Excerpt:

Since the start of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption there has been much speculation about an eruption of the larger, neighbouring Katla volcano.

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